Friday, October 27, 2006

Obstacles to Seeing Christ - Jealousy

A player on a baseball team just hits a two-run homer. Upon rounding the bases, the player runs to the dugout, and is greeted by enthuasiastic teammates.

"Great hit!

"Sweet slam bro."

The compliments flow easy and there is a glad mood in the dugout. The team is now up by 2 and it's the end of the 8th. It looks like another win.

Over in the corner - away from the excitement - sits a teammate with his arms folded, head shaking. He looks disgusted.

"That guy gets all the breaks. He's so lucky," he mutters to himself.


In Luke, chapter 15, Jesus tells the story of a prodigal son returning home. The prodigal son's brother learns of the grand homecoming and soon becomes angry.

"Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends," he laments to his father.

Jealousy is a black cover to our seeing Christ and having freedom. Those who follow Christ need to rid themselves of any envy towards one another. In the body, we all have roles. Some will teach and be well-known, some will teach and be lesser-known; some will encourage and lift up, some will suffer severely for Christ; some will have great success, some will fail over and over.

In the end, we will all stand in glory, beholding our Triumphant Savior. At that moment, we will not be absorbed in covetousness. We - in turn - will await a crown of righteousness bestowed on all who have longed to see Him.

For those who believe on the name of Jesus, jealousy is an irony.

Lord, take this bitter heart and fill it with your sweet mercy. That I might have the heart to love and with fresh eyes, look beyond my covetousness, to the bigger story at hand. Our reward is not to be found here. Our rewards rest with you. Thank you.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Obstacles to Seeing Christ - Bitterness

Driving down the freeway, the woman looks in her rear-view mirror to see a fast-approaching car. The driver, going several miles over the speed limit, zooms past her and darts into her lane. The woman - perturbed - lets fly several choice words and utters, "Moron. How dare you..." The anger, wells up like a volcano inside her.


An elderly man sits in his comfy chair, watching a re-run of a popular game show. It's been 10 years since he's seen his brother. And if he has his way, it will be a cold day in hell before he sees him again. The man stews with resentment. He's been wronged. His brother should have known better. The bitterness, is eating him alive.


One day, Jesus was approached by Peter.

"Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?"

"I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven," Jesus replied.

Over and over, the demand to forgive one another was proclaimed from the mouth of Christ. Why? Can't we stew over the wrongs; the ill treatment we've received?

On another occassion, Jesus was reclining at the table of a Pharisee. A woman (known for her many sins) got word of Jesus' whereabouts - and overjoyed, takes a gift to Him. She enters the Pharisee's house and proceeds to pour a costly perfume over Jesus' feet. She is weeping.

Jesus is touched by the gesture and tells a disciple who was next to him that this woman is so full of thankfulness that she cannot contain herself. The love for her Savior is overflowing.

"For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little" (Luke 7:40-50).

Like always, Jesus tries to get at the heart of the matter. The sinner, who played out her depravity to the full has now been redeemed by the blood of Christ. This saint sees her life in the rearview mirror and says, with tears, "I was lost, but have now been found!" Seeing the life she has been saved from and the Savior she has been saved to, gives her joy and a newness of heart.

In this heart, bitterness has no home.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Are You Over Christ?

It is a sad condition of the heart. That which - at one time - caused great excitement and motivation, now, hardly causes a whimper in the soul. The new, becomes old.

The brand new job, becomes the "daily grind". The car so desired and saved for, becomes rusty and uncared for. The year-long anticipation of a 7-day family trip overseas, becomes a week-long anticipation for home.

We ask and we wonder, "is there anything that can keep our heart's desire's?"

Apparently, the Apostle Paul found something that so transfixed his heart's gaze that he scarcely waned in excitement and anticipation of it. His object of affection was not waning in its newness or joy. What was it?

It was the personhood and reality of Jesus Christ. Why couldn't he get over him?

To Paul, Christ was everything. Out of the blue, Christ rescued Paul from a life of certain destruction. When he finally knew Christ, he also knew the life he had once lived - and it was a wake-up call. With new eyes, he saw the beauty and the glory of Christ. How Christ redeems and renews. How He calls the wayward and sets them on a sure path. He finally saw that life was not a never-ending series of new things we try on and grow out of, but of redemption and newness that could only be found in this Savior.

With new eyes, we too will see some of what Paul saw. We will not grow tired of yet another burden to carry, another day to live, another clock to punch - but we will see that each next moment offers us a chance to live in the newness of life that Christ has set before us, in Him, by His strength. Each "old" and tired thing is redeemed, by Him and through Him. Each new day is a chance to make Christ known in a world that is seeking redemption through tired means.

In Christ, the old, becomes new again.

O Lord, help us to never get over you and your ability to make all things new.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Divine Forgiveness

The grandfather of two girls brutally assassinated while at school, was asked by a reporter if he had forgiven the gunman who took their lives.

"In my heart, yes," he said.

Apparently, Enos Miller (the grandfather) is crazy. How does a man honestly say that after a gunman ruthlessly walks into a schoolhouse, takes his two grandkids and then snuffs their life out in an instant say that he forgives that man?

There has to be something more to this story. So, we read on.

"Through God's help."

Miller knows something many of us do not. He knows the love of God in Christ Jesus. He also knows that God is all-powerful and omnipotent. He worships a God who is not powerless to save - but powerful to save. He worships a God who reigns in death and life.

He worships a God whom I want to worship.

The love that God has bestowed on those whom He has chosen is a love like none other. It is a love that can shine in the midst of great joy and - often - shines most brightly in times of great darkness.

It is the kind of bold and radical love that calls it's followers to not return hate with more hate, but with love. And, that, is ironic.

Lord, help us in our inability to forgive and to love. Even those whom we find most unloveable and hardest to love - for your namesake O Lord!